Nostalgia: Starting a French tradition at Parklands High School in Chorley

Pupils from Parklands High School, Chorley, outside Chateau de Cormatin, during their French exchange in 1994.
Pupils from Parklands High School, Chorley, outside Chateau de Cormatin, during their French exchange in 1994.
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Janet Winter joined Parklands High School, in Chorley, more than 30 years ago and wasted no time in starting a cultural tradition.

The 66-year-old from Euxton set up a French exchange, taking pupils to Burgundy every other year, with their pen pals visiting Chorley in between.

Janet Winter

Janet Winter

Janet says: “I started the French exchange when I joined the school.

“All the children were housed with French families and the following year their pen pals would come to Chorley.

“We were linked with College Pasteur, just outside Chalon in St Remy. The pupils stayed in Chalon-sur-Saone.

“The pupils attended lessons in the French school with their pen pals and they also visited various places of interest around Burgundy. We went to wine cellars, chocolate makers, cattle rearing farms, porcelain factories and did the Cluny pilgrimage.

“It was lovely seeing the children putting their French to practice and using it in a practical way, and it was great to see them making friends from people from other countries and appreciate other cultures.

“I am sure the pupils enjoyed it.

“Some people are still in touch with their pen pals. Their parents have come over to stay with the families and we have even had a marriage between a French girl and her pen pal’s cousin.

“My daughter even came with me on the exchange twice.”

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Janet taught at Parklands in Chorley for 25 years, retiring in 2012.

Before that, she taught at Parklands High School, in Preston, which is now known as Moor Park High School.

She adds: “I always wanted to be a teacher.

“I used to play schools and always had to be the teacher.

“So I was combining teaching with my love of France and languages. I was lucky to do something I loved.

“There was lots of scope to do fun things, such as French plays, fashion shows and we even did Can-Can dancing.

“France has a very rich culture.

“It is not just about teaching the language but everything around its traditions and celebrations.

“I also enjoyed decorating the classroom with the French theme. When I first started I set up a little grocery store with sad boxes of Camembert cheese.”